9 months ago

BassPlayer 2017-01

BassPlayer 2017-01


CS ROBERT TRUJILLO EDDIE MALLUK / ATLAS ICONS is one of Metallica’s best-sounding records, but it might also be the most bass-centric. Burton may have had more freedom to express himself, as demonstrated on songs like “(Anesthesia)— Pulling Teeth” [Kill ’Em] and “Orion” [Master], but never has the bass been as present within Metallica songs as it is on Hardwired. After the much-maligned mastering job on Trujillo’s debut, 2008’s Death Magnetic, bass players worldwide will rejoice over just how listenable this record is. For examples, check out his muscular, rhythmic counterpoint to rhythm guitarist James Hetfield’s furious, militant riffage on “Hardwired,” or the gargantuan groove on “Dream No More,” or Robert’s restraint on “Halo on Fire.” His performances on “Moth Into Flame” and “Atlas, Rise!” are clear and audible, strengthening the grooves and supporting the riffs with aggression, grace, and simplicity. Heck, there’s even a full 34-second chordal bass intro to “ManUNkind” and a distorted bass solo on “Spit Out the Bone,” both of which harken back to Burton-era Metallica. It’s as if the rest of the band finally realized they have one of rock’s toughest bassists in the fold, and that it’s wise to incorporate his personality and give him some room in the mix. “It’s taken eight years to do this,” says Trujillo. “It’s a journey we’re taking, and [for me] this is only the second step. There’s going to be another step, and I’m sure that next step is going to be even more involved in a collaborative sense.” Trujillo sounds genuinely ebullient about refining his approach into what he calls the “art of simplicity,” and he was extremely forthcoming about the triumphs, challenges, choices and techniques that inform his role in metal’s biggest band. How would you describe your role in Metallica? I always tell people that I’m like Joe Walsh in the Eagles. I’m here to support them. I’m here with my bass every day ready to jam. What were the most challenging aspects of working with them when you first joined? One of the most intimidating things is showing James an idea that’s a bit challenging. I remember showing him the “Suicide & Redemption” riff (Death Magnetic), and it was a little tricky. If he doesn’t get it within the first few minutes, he gets a bit impatient. I find this with a lot of people that I work with, whether it’s Jerry Cantrell [Alice In Chains] or James. It’s intimidating because these guys are masters of their craft. It can be a scary thing. How would you describe the writing process for an album like Hardwired? Everything we do revolves around jamming; that’s where a lot of the ideas blossom. We have a jam room [backstage], and before we go on every night, we play. But a lot of the riffs come from James. He’s the type of guitar player where, if he’s adjusting the tone knob on the amp, he’s going to come up with a riff. So we always document everything that comes from that. And the jams that happen backstage are recorded as well. You have a songwriting credit on Hardwired with 28 / january2017

“ManUNkind.” How involved are you in the process? It’s a weird thing. On this album I had plenty of ideas prepared, but James already had so much stuff. On Death Magnetic I didn’t have so many ideas, but I had more writing credits. Hardwired was really centered on James’ riffs. Initially, “ManUNkind” was something that I had prepared and envisioned as an instrumental. Then James and I jammed together, and it became this beautiful piece of music. As far as arranging goes, a lot of that process comes from Lars [Ulrich, drums] and James. I’m there to support them. You sound a little surprised that “ManUNkind” is on there. I only found out about it last week; I didn’t know. That’s kind of exciting for me. It’s beautiful that Lars included [my intro] in the song. It has a bit of a Jaco influence, like “Continuum” or “Blackbird.” It’s classic Metallica, but there is that Jaco ingredient. Anything that I create, I’m always pulling from my influences. On a lot of the Suicidal Tendencies music I’m playing fretless bass, like the fretless intro to “You Can’t Bring Me Down” [Lights … Camera … Revolution!, 1990, Epic]. There’s a lot of that in my writing. Is it a conscious decision to put those influences in there? I’m always reaching and connecting with people like Anthony Jackson and Jaco. All of the music with Infectious Grooves was inspired by Jaco—hands down. Along with Larry Graham, he was my #1 influence with that band. When you’re young, you’ve got lot of fire, and you try a lot of different things—there are no rules. Yes, and whether it’s good or bad doesn’t really matter. It’s that punk attitude. I wasn’t trying to learn Jaco songs note-fornote; I think I do that more now. But it wasn’t about that when I was composing back in the days of Infectious or Suicidal. It was more about taking the attitude and the technique and applying it to original ideas. How does that apply to a band like Metallica, which requires a bit more restraint in the bass parts? I always try to cater to the balance of the song and being simple, but at the same time, some of the intros, and some of the stuff that pops out in the mix, is all influenced by my heroes. A song like “Suicide & Redemption” is influenced by Anthony Jackson. I go there. I’m playing the low B, I’m playing something repetitive, and I’m doing it really heavy. That comes from him. Jackson, Jaco, and Graham seem like unconventional influences for a bass player in the world’s most popular metal band. Well, Geezer Butler is another huge influence. He has this sense of melody within a line that just always fits well within the chord progression or riff, so I always try to pull from him, too. It’s great when you can find that ingredient that works for you and apply it. Overall, your lines on Hardwired are fairly straightforward. As a bass player on this stuff, what was really fun and interesting was the art of simplifying and finding ways to create a pulse within the song, whether it’s fast or in-your-face and aggressive. Finding a certain rhythmic pulse that complements James Hetfield’s guitars—and also the drums—was something that was different from anything I’ve ever done in the past. That was the great thing about Greg [Fidelman, producer]: He helped me find the rhythms that were going to work against the guitars, so I’m not playing exactly what the guitars are playing. I was curious about that on the song “Hardwired.” It’s an interesting balance. On songs like “Hardwired” that’s where we actually started checking that out—going for a slightly different rhythm. It’s very subtle, but it creates strength in the riff. Normally in the past I’d go for mimicking the riff, and of course, One Of A Kind By Chris Jisi “It was just a raw musical moment that now lives forever in front of a great Metallica song,” says Robert Trujillo about his impromptu chordal piece that Metallica ended up using as an intro to “ManUNkind.” Example 1 approximates the first four measures. Indeed, you can hear the spontaneity as guitarist James Hetfield finds his way through the piece, initiating his melody line. Fortunately, the tape was rolling. “I think it works well because you have this peaceful opening that works like a musical dawn going into this powerful, swaggering song.” Robert used his Warwick Signature 5-string and played fingerstyle, with his thumb on the A string, index finger on the D, and middle finger on the G. Try to maintain an even pace to make the rhythms clear, and let all the notes ring. Flowing ballad = 62 A Asus4 Am7 G/A Am7 G/A A Ex. 1 Let all notes ring (especially open A’s).... 0 111414 11 11 0 12 1414 12 12 0 10 1212 10 10 1212 10 0 10 12 0 10 1212 10 10 0 9 1212 9 9 0 10 9 0 9 7 0 76 0000000 / january2017 29

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